303 Associates airs zoning and design concerns with Beaufort Redevelopment Commission

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJuly 10, 2014 

The Mulligan Grayson House on King Street in Beaufort is owned by the Baptist Church of Beaufort. The church and preservationists have been at odds for years over what should be done to the home, pictured in this 2012 file photo.

SARAH WELLIVER, STAFF PHOTO

With about $14 million in restaurant and residential projects pending, developer 303 Associates brought a list of complaints about city regulations Thursday night to Beaufort's Redevelopment Commission.

Principal Dick Stewart brought up a number of concerns about zoning, building design and landscaping related to his Beaufort Town Center and Marsh Gardens property on the northern side of Boundary Street.

The projects include a proposed Starbucks, another unnamed restaurant and a 137-unit, 22-building apartment complex.

Among Stewart's concerns is a requirement that two-story buildings face Boundary Street as part of the city's development plans.

Stewart held up a picture of the existing two-story McDonald's on Boundary that showed the staircase to the second floor chained off. That means, he said, the second floor is not necessarily needed. It adds to the cost of a building. In addition, in the case of the Starbucks, a tenant may have no desire to use or pay for the second floor.

A 75-percent-glass facade on buildings facing the road is another expensive requirement, Stewart said. It means steel must be used instead of less expensive frame materials.

Landscaping and tree requirements are also too stringent, he suggested, specifically referencing the proposed Starbucks parking lot. There, city staff are recommending a plan that would save a tree but cut out two parking spaces.

Stewart also said there is inconsistency in the messages he has received from the planning department over the years about how much proposed developments must conform to conceptual drawings in master plans. Everyone at the table agreed the drawings are intended to be ideas, rather than hard and fast guidelines.

"One of our jobs is to be a facilitator for development," commission vice chairman Mike McNally said after Stewart's presentation. "There probably are a lot of arbitrary and capricious ideas in (city regulations) that maybe need to be revisited and talked about."

McNally said a special work session will be called with city planners to look further into Stewart's concerns.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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